We had the pleasure of speaking with Øyvind Birkenes, CEO of Airthings. The mission of his company is to make radon detectors just as prevalent as smoke detectors in both private and public spaces. Airthings’ Wave, a smart radon detector, couples sleek design with cutting-edge sensing technology to save lives. Airthings Wave is an IoT-based solution that helps home and business owners detect and monitor environmental radon levels.
Mr. Birkenes, I understand you’re launching exciting technology this week at CES 2017. But for readers just hearing about you, tell us about Airthings.
We’re based in Norway and opened the shop in 2008. Our company is made up of a great group of scientists, engineers, and other technology professionals with a core mission of ensuring people around the world can truly take control of their air quality. Our focus is to develop products that easily monitor and identify radon levels in indoor air. We are world leaders in radon monitors today, and the US is our biggest market. We are excited to launch the new Airthings Wave smart radon detector at CES. It provides consumers with critical, potentially life-saving information on indoor air quality that’s accessible via their smartphone or tablet.
And why radon detection in particular? Why is that Airthings’ passion?
We care about radon detection because exposure to it is actually the leading cause of lung cancer in the nonsmoking population, and most people don’t realize this. Radon kills around 10 times more people than house fires and carbon monoxide. Radon simply carries immense health risks, and we are determined to improve health and safety for everyone on this specific front.
Radon levels also fluctuate depending on climate, on a home’s foundation, even the earth’s movements; there are actually many variables, so long-term monitoring is crucial. Radon detection has been ignored in many ways by technology in our opinion, so we were particularly inspired to provide consumers with a significant advancement that could vastly improve their home and office safety.
And what are you launching at CES this week?
We’ve unveiled our brand-new Smart Radon Detector here at CES. The Airthings Wave is quick to setup and easy to use. Simply mount the device to the wall or ceiling with a single screw and immediately start monitoring radon levels as well as temperature and humidity inside your home. Download the free Airthings mobile app, register, pair the device, and start monitoring your air quality.
The fluctuating nature of radon makes short- and long-term measuring essential and with the Wave you will be able to view all real-time and historical data to compare over time. In addition, the user will receive alerts from the mobile app. Thanks to Proximity Detection enabled by Silicon Labs’ SI1153-AA00-GMR, the user can simply wave in front of the device to know the air quality. Thanks to color codes, radon and air quality levels are easy for everyone to understand. The ability to know your radon levels without having a smartphone or tablet is very important. This allows everyone in the home to see the air quality.
Tell us what Silicon Labs’ products you’re using to craft solutions for your customers and why you picked them?
We actually use two key Silicon Labs products in our new product. We like the I2C Humidity and Temperature Sensor—the Si7020-A20-GMR—as well as a Proximity/Ambient Light Sensor IC—the SI1153-AA00-GMR. We looked at many products, but both of these provided just the technology what we needed. They’re also priced very competitively.
And now of course our eternal Bonus Question in the IoT Heroes series: Where do you see the IoT heading in the next 5–8 years given your industry vantage point?
We are going to just see a myriad of unique devices becoming connected to the internet, and lots of resulting data generated. And over time, much more meaningful use of the data will transform our environments. We will see a lot more interoperability between systems on the cloud side, rather than individual sensors talk locally to each other on some specific RF protocol. With today’s communication platforms like Bluetooth, WiFi, Thread, and others, it’s getting easier to transfer information to the cloud, than to connect all devices locally. Thus, I don’t believe we will see one winning RF protocol for the IoT even 5-8 years out.
If you're interested in learning more about connected products or how you can add Bluetooth to your product like the Airthings, check out our extensive wireless- and Bluetooth knowledge base here.
Disclaimer: I work for Silicon Labs